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So who better to play Snow White than Kristen Stewart? The 21-year-old star has already played her fair share of iron-willed characters, whether it’s Twilight’s Bella Swan, leather clad rocker Joan Jett from The Runaways, or her stripper in Welcome to the Rileys.
Mind you, when FilmInk is ushered inside onto the soundstage where Stewart is currently filming, she’s in a bind. In an antechamber, lit with candles and awash with the scent of burning oil lamps, Snow White is on her back, facing her nemesis. Towering over her, Queen Raveena - as played by the statuesque Charlize Theron - is about to skewer her with a dagger. Plunging the blade towards her, the Queen yells, “By fairest blood, it is done,” only for Snow White to somehow repel her at the last possible second.
The take is over, and while the crew re-lights the scene, Stewart bounds over for a chat, looking like the true warrior in her chainmail and breastplate. “I was trying to think the other day what films have women in armour,” she muses. Joan of Arc? “Yeah that, and, I guess, Elizabeth, and that’s it.” With the chance to show her mettle, it is little wonder that Stewart jumped at the chance to play such a radical reinvention of the heroine, even if early gossip suggested that she wasn’t interested in taking on the role in the wake of just having finished the Twilight franchise. “That was perpetuated by the idea that I didn’t see myself playing Disney’s Snow White, in the cartoon,” she notes. “ But we have stayed so true to who she is, classically, if you read the fairytale. We’re doing a really true rendition of who she is.” Which is? “She’s a character that does truly lack vanity...not to say that everyone is stuck up, but a certain point, you are aware of yourself, and she simply doesn’t have that, which is cool. She’s kind of stunted. She’s a very odd little combination of personality traits. She’s kind of a freak!”:
Stewart also liked the duality that her Snow White was given. “It’s cool to play a character that is able to step outside of herself and consider others in an almost supernatural way, but at the same time, knows that she’s human and has those struggles and still fights for herself. She’s just the essential leader. Our Snow White is the definition of what makes a hero...so many of our heroes are assholes. They find pleasure in hurting people. She doesn’t. Yet, she can seriously take care of business.”
With Stewart noting that the film is “not taking the story and turning it on its head, Snow White and the Huntsman does follow the original Brother’s Grimm tale closely - for a while, at least - as The Huntsman (Thor star, Chris Hemsworth) is instructed by the Queen to take Snow White into the forest and kill her. The twist comes when he switches allegiances and becomes her protector, even tutoring her in combat and sword-play. Together, they then join forces to bring down the evil Queen. “He’s a comforting presence,” Stewart admits of Hemsworth. “I know his type.”
Stewart was one of several key cast members impressed by this. [regarding the 3 and a half minute trailer, as presented at ComicCon] “That was the first thing that drove me to do the project.” she says. “The story was amazing, but it’s about beauty, so unless it’s beautiful, it’s just not going to make an impact.” Stewart credits Sanders’ desire to collaborate too. “Something that actors always talk about is, ‘Oh, it’s been such a collaboration...we really are a family’, but me and him really are on the same page. We’re a team, and that’s rare...really rare.”
Likewise, there will be blood. “We’re not shying away from the parts that are gruesome, because it makes the parts that are beautiful that much more beautiful,” says Stewart. Beauty, of course, is a key theme in Snow White, revolving around the Queen’s obsession with her own image and being “the fairest of them all”. “It doesn’t mean beautiful, it means fair,” corrects Stewart. “It’s what’s pumping through her veins, rather then what you look like. I don’t know if the Queen is aware of that, at least until the end, and she realises ‘Oh, fair is not necessarily what I thought it was.’”
According to Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron was doing exactly the same thing. “She is not afraid to take a hit,” says the young actress of her Oscar winning co-star. “She keeps telling me to hit her harder. We’re fairly similar in that we do shut off when the cameras start rolling. Not to totally blow her cover, but we both go into a zone, and it gets fairly dangerous.”
Despite, the undeniable presence and charisma of Chris Hemsworth, this is ultimately what makes Snow White & The Huntsman such a stand-alone: it’s the rarest of Hollywood action movies in that it is led by two strong female protagonists. “It is fairly common to have your story as a woman, even if you’re the protagonist, facilitated by all of the male characters,” says Kristen Stewart, “It’s so rare to have a female lead character being so proactive. She pushers her own story forward, rather then being affected by all of the outside elements. Hopefully we do that, I’m really proud to be a part of something like that. It’s always food for women to feel empowered.”
Scans & transcription via @Mel452